MERCERVILLE — South Gallia High School students witnessed a crash simulation Thursday as part of efforts to dissuade students from unsafe driving in preparation for the weekend’s prom.
As part of collaborative efforts with the Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, Gallia County EMS, McCoy-Moore Funeral Home, Graham’s Towing and District 2 Guyan Township Volunteer Fire Department, first responders and students took part in a dramatization.
South Gallia senior Carrie Watson and junior Joey Woodall drove a vehicle passed the form of senior Mikayla Poling outside of a smashed vehicle in South Gallia High School’s parking lot. Poling simulated the ejected and injured form of a student flung from a vehicle after it had collided with another. A dummy remained half over the dash of a shattered windshield to simulate her driving companion. The vehicle itself was one taken from the site of a previous car collision.
Trooper Marvin Pullins, of OSHP, narrated and discussed statistics with students as Woodall and Watson went through the portrayed shock of discovering the injured Poling before mock calling 911. Police arrived to investigate the scene as part of the simulation along with a firetruck, rescue vehicle and ambulance. Students watched as Poling was taken through the steps of collision retrieval and placed in an ambulance with Woodall and Watson watching from the bumper of the firetruck. Rescue workers then displayed how the “jaws of life” worked to extricate Poling’s “dead” dummy companion from the vehicle by cutting off the broken car’s door. After the dummy was removed, McCoy-Moore Funeral Home workers took it away on a gurney.
Trooper Pullins then displayed the distance a car could travel at specific speeds in a second’s time while a student was potentially not paying attention due to texting with a phone or because of impaired reaction times resulting from drinking.
“It’s important that students understand how far they actually travel at speeds,” said Pullins. “Sometimes they feel like they have all day (to stop). The time display shows them how far their vehicle actually travels and how far you do go. (Students should) factor in the fact you could have an oncoming vehicle coming at the same speed and that effectively cuts the (time it takes to react to stop in an emergency) in half.”
“I think the most valuable things the kids can get out of this is a heightened awareness to safety,” said South Gallia High School Principal Bray Shamblin. “A lot of times I think that students might not see the true value in paying attention to the road instead of looking at a phone. Some just consider a phone an extension of their arm, and in a sense it is, but when you are driving its taking away from what you should be doing and that’s paying attention to the road.”
School Resource Officer Scott Lear said he felt the students reacted positively to the exercise and hoped they all make responsible choices over the coming prom weekend. He said the after prom committee “really pushed” having the mock crash scenario.
“Carrie arranged all this so we could get a firsthand account of distractions on the road,” said mock student victim Poling. “Because in our high school when you start getting into sophomore year you start driving. Juniors and seniors go to prom and a lot of them think its cool to go afterwards and drink and drive. Some people text and drive all the time. So we thought it was a good idea to do a mock scene so (fellow students) can see what can happen. Using us as fellow classmates and putting us on the scene, we hope that opened their eyes to see that it could really be there friends that (collisions) happen to. It can be people that you love (that drink or text and drive) and see that (collisions) can effect their entire lives.”
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.